It’s week 44 of the 2014 Deal Me In Challenge. I drew the three of hearts and, referring to my short story roster, learned that Edina Doci’s story “Bear Dance” was up to bat. I own this story as part of the collection of nine stories titled “The Meantime.” I first heard about it via Alex’s excellent blog, “The Sleepless Reader” which, due to motherhood and other responsibilities, has largely fallen silent in recent months. I miss it. I’ve also read one other entry from this collection for this year’s DMI, Monica Westeren’s “From Brussels South to Ottignies.”
The story relates the deterioration of a relationship to the point where the sex is mechanical – and regularly scheduled – and the passion is clearly gone. I guess it would probably be better to say it presents a relationship that has already deteriorated to a point of no return. The writing is good, though, and the story interestingly opens with a first person narrative of an actual bear “couple” in the woods. They are “running out of berries” and contemplating leaving their safe haven in the forest. Why? The overt connection is that, later, in the “human” part of the story, told in the first person by the woman, we learn the man calls her “my little bear,” as one of his terms of endearment. But there are subtler reasons as well.
The story also contains a great interlude where the couple is mistaken for “young lovers” by an older couple who even ask them if they’re planning to have children. The narrator “cant stand the envy of these old folks” and realizes that she and her lover are “older in our love than they are.” – a uniquely clever way to put it.
In preparing this post, however, I have become more fascinated with how this story came to be published than the actual story itself. This collection of nine stories (of which Doci was one of the editors) grew out of a Brussels writing group, of which all the members were not Belgian natives but expats from “all over” (Doci is from Budapest and Westeren – whose story I read earlier this year – is from Finland. They got the idea to each contribute a story, either set in Brussels, or starring characters from Brussels, to a book which they would independently publish. From the results I’ve read, they took their task seriously and ended up producing a solid collection of stories.
I found an interview of the three co-editors online at “Fans of Flanders” and ended up watching the whole thing. It’s at http://www.fansofflanders.be/Channels/Ear%20Candy/Interviews/3_November_2012/The_Meantime/TheMeantime if you’d like to view some or all of it.
Below : That’s Doci in the middle and Westeren on the right. Nick Jacobs is on the left – I guess I’ll make his story the next one I read from this collection. 🙂
For more information on this collection, try http://www.themeantime.be/